Network Members Stir PR share how the upcoming HFSS regulations could impact your food and drink marketing strategy, and how PR can help.

New HFSS regulations are taking effect by the end of 2022. With the government confirming a total ban on paid-for advertising online for certain food and drink products, here's a quickfire run-down of what it could mean for your strategy, courtesy of Network Members Stir PR.

HFSS Regulations: What are they?

HFSS regulations revolve around restricting the promotion of HFSS products (high in fat, sugar or salt) by location and by volume price. 

When are HFSS regulations being implemented? 

It feels like we’ve been talking about HFSS forever. There’s been continued debate over when they’re coming and what the nuances will be, but one thing is for certain – they are coming. 

What will they affect?

New guidance has told us that it’s not just confectionary, fizzy drinks and crisps that will be affected by the new HFSS regulations. It will also be affecting things like baking mixes, yoghurt drinks and even dairy-free ice cream alternatives too. 

The new changes are going to affect things that we’ve been using for years, from TV to paid media. It’s going to be harder than ever for brands to reach their target consumers. However, there are plenty of opportunities that come with it too.

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New opportunities

Savvy brands have already started to reformulate, innovate, or make plans to reinvigorate different ranges. We’ve seen brands from Walkers, KP Snacks and Goodfellas all start to roll out new product lines this year. KP even reckon that a quarter of its snack’s portfolio will be non HFSS by October, which is huge! 

We know there's appetite for it. Changing habits of consumers have created a surge in healthy snacks and foods over the past few years.

New product development has always needed awareness, particularly when standing out in a crowded market.

But with reformulation, it's even more important. Essentially, consumers need education and more importantly, reassurance that their favourite brands are still going to look and taste as good as they expect.

How PR can help 

Change is good, but it's not always well received. As your ‘brand guardians,’ PR can really make a difference here.

Owned media is excluded from the incoming restrictions. That means your website and social media channels are all spaces to say what you want to say, your way. But it must be organic.

So, choose your platforms wisely. Something like Facebook is more of a pay to play space. Others like TikTok will help you see wide reach organically. 

And it's not just the channel, the content needs to resonate too. It’s not enough to look good. You need to make sure that you're creating vibrant and engaging content that is going to really get the interest of your audience. 

Strong social media campaigns have even seen earned media editorial in the past. So, consult with your PR agency at the conception of creative. 

The importance of brand awareness  

Whilst brands aren't allowed to promote HFSS products, they are still allowed to promote themselves. This one's a no brainer, it means brand building has never been more important than right now. 

Who are you? What are your values? What do you stand for? Why should somebody choose you over a competitor? What do you have in common with your audience? This is where emotion comes in. It’s more than brand identity, it’s about building rapport with your audience.

It takes a long time, but it's really the core value of PR.

Try something new

Finally, try something new. As it stands, radio and podcasts will be exempt from the incoming regulations. It’s anticipated over 26 million of us in the UK will be listening to podcasts regularly by the end of 2026. 

We all know the power of a third-party endorsement. It's why things like influencer marketing has become so lucrative. Well similarly to this PR tactic, it's all about finding the right people and the right podcasts for your brand. 

Don't be afraid to test and learn. Whether you're looking for reach or to hone in on a really specific audience, it’s all about knowing their listenership and knowing your hosts. 

Stir PR are a specialist PR agency and GO! Network member. To learn more about Stir, visit their website here.

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